Sales of Barbie and her pink-and-white empire rose for the first time in almost two years during the holidays, a sign that the once-stalled brand may be recovering.
A 12 percent increase in Barbie sales combined with a 16 percent rise in Hot Wheels sales to drive an 86 percent increase in Mattel Inc.'s profit, the No. 1 U.S. toymaker said Friday.
The increase coincides with the rollout of Barbie's Fashionista line, which was featured on numerous lists of hot holiday toys.
The turnaround for one of its top brands is good news for Mattel. And it came at a crucial time: The holiday selling season can account for nearly half of toy makers' annual sales.
After working to cut costs, Mattel earned $328.4 million, or 89 cents per share, during the quarter — handily beating Wall Street forecasts. That's an 86 percent increase from last year's profit of $176.4 million, or 49 per share. Sales climbed 1 percent to $1.96 billion.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn 68 cents on revenue of $1.98 billion.
For the full year, Mattel earned $528.7 million, or $1.45 per share. That's a 39 percent increase from its 2008 profit of $379.6 million, $1.04 per share.
Full-year sales slipped 8 percent to $5.43 billion.
Mattel, based in El Segundo, Calif., is in the midst of a cost-savings plan that has included cutting jobs, improving its supply chain, reducing the number of items it is developing and slashing capital spending. The plan is expected to save $90 million to $100 million in 2009 and $180 million to $200 million in 2010.
Mattel shares rose 33 cents in premarket trading to $20.37.
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